Social Work Resource Fund

Katie Witmer

The Social Work Resource Fund gives the school the opportunity to fund new ideas, new initiatives and inspired projects that emerge during the year and are not covered by the current operational budget or research grants.

In 2012, the fund was able to provide a small stipend to Katie Witmer, MSW '13, for her field placement in South Korea. She devoted her time and efforts to improve the lives of an equally neglected class of population: unwed mothers.

Witmer wrote about the experience in her blog, explaining that the stigma of having children out of wedlock contributes to the high number of Korean infants given up for adoption every year, earning this Asian economic powerhouse the unattractive moniker of the “world’s number one baby exporter.”

Witmer, who was adopted at 7 months old and grew up in Lockport, NY, blended seamlessly into the streets of South Korea because of her physical appearance, but realized that the locals treated her differently once they found out a “fellow Korean” did not speak the mother tongue fluently. It is one of the many cultural nuances that surprised her during her placement.

“My interest in Korea stems from my own personal connection as one of the thousands of Korean infants who were sent abroad for adoption,” Witmer wrote. “In addition to my personal desire to visit my country of birth, I really wanted to come to Korea to see for myself and experience firsthand what I had read, researched and heard from others.”